How to Write Upwork Proposals: Turning Prospects Into Clients

Updated on September 15, 2022  |  How To 

How to write Upwork Porposals

How do you craft a winning Upwork proposal?

How do you get clients to respond by saying “yes” instead of ignoring you?

How can you be sure that the proposals that you are sending out are actually helping your chances of landing an assignment on Upwork?

The answer is simple: don’t follow the crowd.


Don’t simply copy what other freelancers have done before. Instead, it is your responsibility to go above and beyond with each proposal that you submit in order to stand out from the competition.

Writing persuasive Upwork proposals is the best way to land jobs on the platform. 

If you don’t have a portfolio of successful past work, you won’t get many inbound invitations for interviews, so you’re going to have to put in the work.

Why listen to me? 

I’ve made six figures through Upwork with a 100% Job Success Score (JSS).

Job Success Score and Total Earnings

I made my living off Upwork for a long time.

I’ve submitted hundreds (probably thousands) of proposals.

I’ve “been there and done that”. 

This advice is pragmatical, not philosophical.

Understand how the client sees it

To submit winning proposals, you need to look at the proposal from the client’s perspective. 

You need to write proposals that potential clients actually appreciate. 

In every case, this client came to Upwork in order to get a problem solved. 

A winning proposal makes it easy for the client to see you’re the right person to solve this problem.

Take a few minutes to actually understand the job posting.  

Successful freelancers always keep the client’s goals in mind.

A Short Cover Letter is Better

When clients review proposals for their job, they’re starting by skimming through all the submitted applications. 

During the scanning process, all of the cover letter content is cut off after a short preview. 

There’s no point in crafting a colossal cover letter if the client will pass you over without even reading past the first few sentences. 

You need to focus all of your effort on hooking the client in with your first few words. 

That’s why it’s so important not to use copy-paste applications that are not unique to a client’s job post. 

When you’re crafting a cover letter, it’s important to focus on why your skills and experience are well-suited for the position. How can you bring value to the company? How will your work benefit others in that role or at this company specifically?

You need to be able to demonstrate how what you have done is relevant to the position. How will your work help them?

For example, say you’re writing a cover letter for an IT job – and your skillset is web development. 

How does this experience make you qualified for that role? 

Why do they need someone with these specific skillsets right now as opposed to another candidate who doesn’t have those skillsets? 

How can you bring value to the company?

You don’t want your cover letter to sound generic and boring. You want it to be convincing enough that a client wants to read more about who you are, what your skillset includes, and how those two things will benefit them in their search for an IT candidate. 

Make sure you’re referencing the client’s company, their specific job description, and what they are looking for in a candidate.

Check for their Name

The fastest way to let a client know that you’re taking the time to understand their job description is by mentioning them by name. 

There are a few different areas where you can find the client’s name. 

The first place to check is in the job post. If you don’t see a name at the end of the job post, go ahead and check the reviews for that client at the bottom of the job post. 

Names in job reviews

Many times the past freelancer will mention the client by name when giving them a review. 

If you happened to get invited to a job, the client’s name is almost always included as the first message on the job invitation.

Speak to the job description

If you’re able to mention the client by name, that’s great. Always lead with their name. 

If you can’t find their name, the next best thing you can do is immediately speak to the job description. 

Find unique background information in the job post and mention that almost immediately at the beginning of your Upwork proposal. 

This quickly proves that you’re specifically applying to this job post and not copying and pasting mass Upwork proposals.

The next step is to find the most important skills mentioned in their job post. If they mention that there’s a specific skill or experience, list it upfront and then speak to your background. 

Remember to keep it all short and sweet!

If you have a customer service background, speaking about your excellent communication skills is key. 

If they are looking for someone with specific programming experience in Python or C++, list that as well.

When answering the additional clients questions

Some applications require more than just a cover letter. 

Additional Job Post Questions

If a client has additional questions Beyond just your cover letter, it’s essential to answer these as concisely as possible. 

Many Freelancers will skip over these jobs because of the extra work required to apply to them, meaning there is less competition for you and a higher chance you’ll land the job.

If the question is straightforward and can be answered with one word, just answer it. There’s no need to give the client more text to redo than they need.

 If the question is more in-depth and requires you to do some quick research, do whatever investigation you need to and answer the question better than anyone else will. 

These types of answers will stand out to the client. 

Very few freelancers are willing to go above and beyond on a job application before they know they’ve even landed the job. 

If you’re starting from scratch on Upwork, this is one of the most potent ways to land jobs without a strong portfolio with a history of job success. 

Include A Process Overview Attachment

Every Upwork proposal allows you to add an attachment before you submit it. 

In my experience, almost no Freelancers utilize this attachment. 

For whatever services you’re offering, create a quick and simple PDF of your process.

Explain what it’s like to work with you from onboarding to project completion. 

Attach this to every single Upwork proposal you submit, and if a client’s on the fence between you and another freelancer, which can push them over the edge in your favor. 

Once you have the PDF created, it doesn’t take any extra work on your end, do this small task once, and it can pay dividends on every single proposal you submit going forward. 

Ask for Action

Always and your Upwork proposals with a call to action. Ask the client when they were available to jump on a quick voice call to discuss the job. 

If you don’t need a voice call to complete the job successfully, ask the client when they’re ready to start. 

Don’t ever just submit a job proposal and leave it at that. 

You need to ask the client to take action. 

This will also signify confidence on your end that you can accomplish the job successfully and that you’ve done this before.

DO NOT beg the client to hire you. 

Just state matter-of-factly that you’re available to discuss the job position or ready to start right away.

Respond Fast (get the mobile app)

Upwork App Page
Upwork App Store Page

The faster you replied a job invitation, the higher your chance of landing that job. It’s as simple as that.

Because of this, you always want to be the first person to reply to a client when they send out invitations.

The easiest way to do this is to install the up work mobile app on your smartphone. 

This will notify you whenever you get invited to a new job, and you can quickly accept the invitation from your smartphone. 

You can also easily voice transcribe a thank you message and a brief overview of why you’d be good for the job. 

I use this method countless times tool, and dozens of jobs to up work because I was always the first person to reply, in the client was always impressed by my responsiveness.

Use a service like Grammarly.

Grammarly Homepage

It goes without saying- avoid typos in your Upwork proposal. 

Potential clients will view errors and grammar mistakes as a lack of attention to detail.

I would suggest using a service like Grammarly to check your writing for errors before you submit it.

The benefits of Spellcheck are well-documented, but the browser extensions and mobile apps can do anything from flagging common spelling mistakes in real-time as you type to providing contextually accurate grammar suggestions.


The key to writing winning proposals on Upwork is not following the crowd.

Make sure you go above and beyond with each proposal that you submit, highlighting your relevant skills and experience in a way that sets you apart from other freelancers. 

How have you used this principle when submitting an Upwork Proposal? 

Let us know below!

About the Author

Nick Patrocky writes SaaS and Business Software reviews. He's also the head of design at a rapidly growing fintech company. Nick's worked with hundreds of software companies and startups over the last 10 years. Reach out if you have any questions or if you'd like to collab.